Working Together Towards Chestnut Restoration

On November 3, 2020 about forty people from the USDA Forest Service and The American Chestnut Foundation (TACF) gathered virtually. It was the second biennial plan of work meeting between TACF and SRS.

Since the 1990s, the two organizations have worked together on American chestnut (Castanea dentata) restoration. In 2017 and in 2019, they committed to a Biennial Plan of Work that strengthens the partnership.

At the meeting, foresters, researchers, and organization leaders shared the latest advances in genetics and breeding, restoration research, and disease screening.

Since 1983, TACF has been working to restore the American chestnut. Their science strategy is called 3BUR – a reference to chestnut’s three nutritious nuts in a spiky burr. TACF uses traditional approaches (tree breeding), integrated management approaches (biocontrol), and powerful new molecular tools (biotechnology).

Two major diseases decimated American chestnut: chestnut blight (Cryphonectria parasitica) and Phytophthora root rot (Phytophthora cinnamomi). Chinese chestnut is blight resistant. Chinese chestnut and American chestnut have been backcrossed – a breeding process that aims to recover the timber-type form of American chestnut while keeping Chinese chestnut genes for blight resistance.

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